Jarrett Patterson, a 6-5, 285-lb. offensive tackle from Mission Viejo, California, joined the Notre Dame Fighting Irish class of 2018 with a National Signing Day announcement that was very much welcomed by the Notre Dame coaching staff. Considering the class contained only three other signees, his commitment added depth, and more importantly quality, to the offensive line group.
Of the four linemen Notre Dame signed, Patterson impressed me the most. Not only in grading his film, but the potential he shows to translate his abilities to the college level. Lets take a closer look at Patterson and how he will factor in the future for the Fighting Irish.
Offensive line coaches begin their evaluations by looking at an athlete's feet and how he moves. This translates to both run and pass blocking ability. Good mobility is an asset for an offensive lineman that can't be coached — a kid either has it or he doesn’t. Patterson has it.
Patterson played in a more traditional offensive system in high school. He would line up in both two- and three-point stance, varying his overall foot placement depending on the play called, and would adjust his first step on the snap based on whether the QB was under center or in the gun. This is a small technique adjustment that people often miss when grading an offensive lineman. When the QB starts under center, a lineman’s first step has to be quick and mesh well with his power step to engage a defender at close range. Most defenses now adjust to a QB under center by aligning closer to the line of scrimmage.
Patterson comes out of his stance well, staying low when needed. He shows good balance in transitioning out of his stance to explode either down the line or up field to engage the defender. He exhibits appropriate knee bend, and uses this element to engage his body with the defender and complete his blocks effectively. A key component of his game is his “Pull” step, a gathering step 90 degrees toward the line of scrimmage. He shows tremendous ability to slide down the line in his pull to both kick out a defender and work to the second level and find the next defensive player in his lane.
Patterson's pass blocking is impressive as well. He does his drop step with authority. This sets him up well on the edge, stonewalling the defender and pushing him away from the interior of the pocket. His stance in pass protection is perfect; he doesn’t get too wide and moves his feet while blocking. This allows him to adjust to the defender's pass rush without compromising his position. He shifts well from a reach-punch technique to sell the pass and then angle to block down field on the release. This indicates the overall athleticism of an athlete. Patterson shows this athleticism over and over again in his film review.
Patterson’s overall game is strong. Weaknesses are not as easy to spot as they are in some of the other evaluations I’ve done. For the most part, he is a complete offensive line prospect. The only two areas he will need to work on are the final aspect of his pass blocking and some leverage issues. In pass blocking, the only potential problem I can spot is that he has a tendency to give up ground toward the pocket when has to hold a block for a long time. The reason is that he tends to transfer his leverage from his base and lose strength as it works up his body. This issue tends to correct itself with proper strength training and coaching on setting his base more effectively.
Grading Patterson is fairly simple. What you see in his game is a very good, and at times dominating, offensive lineman.
Patterson is easily the best offensive line prospect in this class, and the one most likely to see playing time early in his career. He has just developed his overall game more than the other three linemen have.
The future could put him on either side of the line at the tackle position. The good bend in his lower body could possibly get him a look inside, but his strengths play to the outside. He plays with an aggressive streak, which is always a plus.
In Chip Long's offense, the linemen are required to have good movement and be able to adjust quickly off a combo block to work downfield. In Long’s RPO package, which we didn't get to see much of this past season for various reasons, the O-line has to get good, low leverage and hold their block or “bucket” step at a 45-degree angle, thus turning the defender away from the play-side read. Patterson exhibited an ability to do both.
I expect Patterson to be a starter for the Fighting Irish in one or two years. He is the headliner for Notre Dame's offensive line class in 2018.